Welcome back to my series reviewing the book I Want My MTV! This review covers chapters 21-33. We’re about halfway through the book at this point. Speaking of “we’re halfway there”: Bon Jovi makes an appearance in this section. There’s a chapter about hair metal and how, despite its often cheesy aesthetic, it raked in the cash and cemented a genre.
Here’s where MTV really starts to take a turn: they’re going corporate. Their influence is becoming even more wide-reaching. And it’s here that one-hit wonders start getting made. You either have the image or you don’t, and MTV is the channel that decides that fate. This was something I had never thought about before, or at least not to this level of detail, so I enjoyed that perspective.
One of the ways MTV exerted its influence was through the Video Music Awards, which were first created in 1984. (One thing that I started wondering as I read this section was, “why don’t they call it the Music Video Awards since that’s what the channel is all about?”) Superstars like Madonna and industry movers and shakers from behind the scenes got the best seats. Of course, there was also some money and backdoor deals that went into it.
This section of the book also goes into detail about the substances that fueled MTV and the videos themselves back then. It’s at this point that I started to not like the book anymore because of how repetitive it’s becoming. I’m not enjoying the endless stories about parties. There’s an entire chapter all about it, in addition to perhaps 80% of the rest of the anecdotes in the book.
What shook up this section is the chapter on the rise of Run-DMC. Rap was everywhere…except on MTV. Run-DMC and their remix of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” changed that. It made rap accessible to wide (i.e. white) audiences. I love stories about new trends in music and their origins. This is one of the ur-examples.
Up next is the gradual transformation of the channel into the reality show clearing house it is today.